Washington D.C., Nov 8, 2016 / 07:35 pm (CNA).- A new action agenda from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has drawn praise from the U.S. bishops as a step towards the “integral ecology” taught in Pope Francis’ encyclical on creation.

“The concern for the good of people, especially the poor and vulnerable communities, is one of the central messages in Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “We welcome efforts by the EPA that recognize what the Pope calls 'integral ecology,' where respect for human life and wellbeing go hand in hand with environmental protection,” he said Nov. 4.

The EPA’s Environmental Justice 2020 Action Agenda builds on its 2014 effort to integrate “environmental justice considerations” into all its agency programs. It aims to strengthen the agency’s collaboration with partners and “demonstrate progress on significant national challenges facing minority and low-income communities.” The agenda aims to improve environmental results for overburdened communities.

In 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical “Laudato Si” on the care for creation. He covered a wide range of topics in relation to the environment — from climate change, species extinction, and resource depletion to waste, economic structures and global inequality. The encyclical praised St. Francis of Assisi for living out an “integral ecology” with joy and authenticity. “He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast… He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace,” the Pope wrote.

Saying that the earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” the Pope stated, “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”   He also spoke of developed nations’ obligations involving renewable resources and the development of poorer countries. The same encyclical criticized abortion, population control and gender ideology.